- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - David Wright and Chipper Jones insist they were just kidding.

A day after the Atlanta Braves star said the New York Mets third baseman told him he was frustrated by the spacious dimensions at Citi Field, Wright said his remarks shouldn’t be taken literally.

“That was me having a good time with Chipper because I saw the look on his face after, you know, hitting 800 feet worth of fly balls and no home runs,” Wright said Tuesday before the Mets beat Philadelphia 6-5.

Jones was so fond of hitting at Shea Stadium that in 2004 he named a son Shea. He went 4 for 7 last month in his first two games at Citi Field, where just 38 home runs were hit in the first 26 games, including 18 by the Mets.

Entering Tuesday, only San Francisco’s AT&T; Park (27), Pittsburgh’s PNC Park (32) and Atlanta’s Turner Field (34) allowed fewer home runs this year.

In the Braves’ 8-7, 12-inning win on May 13, Jones hit two of Atlanta’s seven doubles.

“It is the biggest park that I have ever played in in my life. It is a huge ballpark to center and right center and right field,” Jones told Sirius XM Radio on Monday. “You know, I actually feel sort of sorry for some of the guys out there because their power numbers are really going to take a hit; guys like David Wright, (Carlos) Beltran, (Carlos) Delgado. The days of them hitting 35, 40 homers _ they’re over. I juiced the ball just right of center field as hard as the good Lord can let me hit a ball, and it hit midways up the center field wall for a double.

“And every time there was a long fly out or a double that hit off the wall or something, David Wright would run by me and go, ‘Nice park.’ He’s a little frustrated with it, but on the flip side of that, you got a guy like Jose Reyes who’s liable to hit, in a healthy year, 25, 30 triples in that ballpark because if you split a gap you can run forever.”

Wright hit a career-high 33 homers last year, including 21 at Shea Stadium. He hit his fourth of the season, his third at Citi Field, on Tuesday night against Philadelphia. He had gone 100 at-bats since May 7 without a home run, one at-bat shy of the career high he set in 2006.

“It’s fun to hit home runs, but it’s a lot more fun to win,” Wright said after the game. “I enjoy home runs just like everybody else but, you know, I don’t necessarily need it to be successful.”

Mets manager Jerry Manuel thought Wright might have been playing mind games with Jones.

“I think a lot of times when players kind of talk to each other, they kind of use reverse psychology, make him feel like: ‘Hey, yeah, man, this is huge. Man, you can’t hit nothing out of here.’”

At Citi Field, the gap in right-center in 415 feet. The left-field fence is up to 15 feet, 8 1/2 inches, the center-field wall 16 feet and the right-field fence 18-6 1/2.

“All I said was, ‘It’s big.’ He said, ‘Nice field.’ That’s all he said,” Jones said Tuesday night. “We were just kidding around. … There were six or seven balls in that series that probably would have been homers in a lot of other parks. Every time we ran by each other, he said, ‘Nice park!’ He was joking around.”

Even after the first seven-homer game Tuesday, Manuel hasn’t drawn any conclusions about the ballpark.

“I still think that jury is out as to how this park is going to play and I think it’s going to take, again, a whole year for us to determine whether this is a pitcher’s park or whether in the summer it gets a little warm and the ball flies out,” he said.

___

AP freelance writer stringer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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